Long stretches and a good bed

June 10, 2010

Yesterday : America the beautiful, America the poor.
Leaving Winthrop, the cowboy town complete with boardwalks, I headed south.  I don’t have an itinerary, I was basically heading south and east.  The views were breathtaking over and over.  Rivers, hills ripped by time showing the ribs of the earth and wearing mottled green sweaters of grass and sage.  It is so beautiful.  
The shades of green move me.  The beauty of the land, the trees, the birds flying all around free and spirited.  The rivers are running strong, there has been way more rain than normal, they roar down their paths.
Things were like this until Yakima. There I found a city filled with cars on the roads with no one on the streets. I was starving, needing gas and a break. After a few futile tries with the GPS I elected to just walk in the first restaurant that was open. (most of them were closed at 5:30 PM.)
I ate a Thai dish and the Thai tea completely revived me. As I went out I met a latino man in his fifties who asked me if I was riding alone, If I would come to his home and also asked me to let him know if I ever needed anything. Fred was riding an old 10 speed bike and was taking care of his dad. This town is depressing. I had the choice between the 82 and the 97 and finally got out of town.
Things got too human with a strange mix of businesses, highway, services and wide open spaces that have been tamed and subdued.
I take the first road off and found myself in the first of two wild pieces of roads. It went on and on, there was no one, nothing but some giant man made structures with nobody around.
Soon,  I climbed up a hill and as I cornered the top it was as if someone had changed the back drop as it went from grey to green with a blue sky,  the immensity of the view was dwarfing.  I kept on going and the drama of the skies and earth just got more intense.
Rain gets closer.  The skies are so big you can see the showers from miles and miles away.  A grain silo appears in the half light and it’s squareness is shocking after the rolling land, it looks like a giant hand giving the finger  out of the earth.
I found myself on a long stretch of this farmed but unhabitated land.  A few wind mills were around, spinning slowly their gigantic blades, like tall menacing beings, no animals, no people, no cars, I rode alone sometimes up to 100 miles an hour on the long flats.
It makes you think of horror movies, breaking down on a desolated stretch, walking to the lone house… Once in a while  Semi trucks blast by and it scared me the first few times as the aftershock of the air they displace hits like a giant whip.  I have to lean completely down on the bike to avoid the worst of it.  I started to recognize which trucks move the most air, like the flat nosed ones…
I keep an eye on the gas gauge and the engine temp, all is well.  I am surprised at how cold it is.  I’ve been wearing the rain jacket, the balaclava and the liner in my leather jacket and it barely does it.
the end of the road appears out of nowhere, a T intersection and suddenly to the south there is this gigantic body of water, it looks like an ocean.  
It’s all a world of extremes.  I am a dot flying by this indifferent landscape thirsting for gas, water and food.

I found gas in Umatilla and then realized I had crossed into Oregon, it’s getting late but I got to keep going as there is nothing appealing here.  The people look poor, kids dirty, you can feel the depressed economy.  I blast out of there.
I am starting to wonder what I will find as I go down this road, I wanted to camp but there is nothing remotely looking like camping grounds or state park.  I finally see a sign for the Oregon Trail, I figure that should get me somewhere nicer and turned right onto it.
The second long stretch of deserted lands greet me. But this time the night is coming, rain is looming large on the horizon, everything is massive, huge. On this ribbon of road with no shoulder I glide down. My faceshield is getting splattered in bugs and I have nothing to clean it. It’s getting dark, the GPS died, it is starting to rain and there is NOTHING around. I still got gas, one good thing in my favor. I rode down that pavement until it took me to another T intersection. To my right : a closed monstrous Shell station. To my left the “town” of Lexington OR. I slowly proceed and there is no one, there is nothing. One closed garage… it’s raining now. I can barely see out of the face shield so I open it and have to go slow so the rain does not sting my eyes too much. 5 vehicles pass me… there has to be a town near. 17 miles it said to Heppner. Hopefully that is not a ghost town. I finally get there. I see the police station, closed businesses, a guy sitting on his front porch, I wonder if that will be it… and then a Motel… I stop, this is where I will sleep. I walk in weary and I am greeted by smiley people who show me a map of the best motorcycling roads in the state, right here south of this place. I made it. I get to my room and my friend Melonai would approve. Leopard motif wall paper, paper basket and lamps. Blue shag carpet, and african themed artwork on the wall. I sit down to write and about 15 minutes in the power goes out. It rains like hell outside, I decide to slip into the bed, and it was truly heavenly.

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2 Responses to “Long stretches and a good bed”

  1. Al Says:

    As I sit in our office chair reading your blogs…I am able to drift along on your free spirited adventure…ahhhh, the power of the mind…all the best…Al

  2. Duane Thorin Says:

    Keep going Danielle. Sounds like the Journey IS the Destination. This trip, your photos, descriptions, adventures, is a work of art all its own. Revvell sent the blog to me, and we are following it and you from time to time. ha…put up a pay pal link in case you run out of funds.
    Disappointed that we could not keep you around, but I’ll get over it, as long as Altadena is on your travel list in the future sometime, or the trip back.
    May grace continue to be with you, as it obviously is. Duane


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